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Modelling Eligibility for Medical Cards and GP Visit Cards: Methods and Baseline Results
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The Irish healthcare system includes a complex mix of entitlements – some are universal, others age-related, and some are income-related. In this report, we concentrate on the major income-related entitlements in the current system i.e., the Medical Card and the GP Visit Card. Most medical cards are provided on an income-tested basis, and provide free access to in-patient and out-patient care in public hospitals, to GP care, and to prescription drugs. We examine how the income test for such schemes can be modelled using the detailed income and demographic information in the Survey on Income and Living Conditions. The approach taken applies the rules for income-related cards to each family in this nationally representative sample, using the information they provide on incomes and family composition. This is essential groundwork for later studies which will examine how the pattern of entitlements might change under different rules, such as those introducing age-related entitlements to GP visit cards, or changes in income limits.
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